Read Matthew 23:23-24
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! (NLT)
Some years ago, an Eastern Airlines jet airliner crashed in the Florida everglades. It happened like this: the pilots noticed a warning light flashing on the cockpit display panel. They investigated and concluded it was probably a faulty globe rather than anything major. This took some time to figure out and when they had figured it out they realised to their horror that the aircraft had rapidly lost altitude and despite their efforts, it plunged into the swamp killing all onboard.
They had so focussed on this minor issue that they ignored a major issue. While trying to fix a malfunctioning light globe they let the aircraft drop out of the sky by neglecting to maintain altitude. Which is a picture of what we tend to do on a regular basis without such dramatic consequences most of the time.
Jesus seems to be addressing this issue with his hearers. He wants them and us to focus on the most important issues. This applies to our wrestling with doctrines of the faith. Instead of being fixated on all the details of every doctrine, we need to get the big picture right. And it also applies to the way we live life. By all means, seek to be obedient in all areas of life, but realise that some issues require more focussed attention.
Focussing on the big areas of justice, mercy, and faith allows us to put all those lesser things into perspective. We won’t crash. We won’t swallow any camels either!